Christian Comment with Mary Brown, member of Stroud Quaker meeting.

IN 1968 Father Bede Griffiths left the monastery at Prinknash to go to India, saying he was in search of the 'other half of his soul'.

He joined the ashram at Shantivanum, which he later led.

The ashram's worship is based on a synthesis of Catholic and Hindu faiths.

Father Bede spent his life searching for the universal truth at the heart of all religions.

He came to see that this can perhaps only be found in silence.

Brother Martin, an Indian Catholic monk, now leads the ashram.

Recently he visited Prinknash, for two days of inspiring talks, stressing that all faiths share the same eternal truth.

It seemed fitting that Bede Griffiths' teachings were coming back to their source.

Bede Griffiths' ideas are kept alive in this country by the Bede Griffiths Sangha: a group of people, most of whom have visited his ashram in India, and who come together occasionally for retreats and gatherings.

There is an annual retreat at the Cistercian monastery at Brownshill near Stroud.

Two days are spent as at Shantivanum, with three periods of silent meditation, followed by prayers, chanting and readings.

In Stroud there is a weekly opportunity to experience half an hour of the silence at St Lawrence church at 8am every Tuesday morning.

This is advertised as 'for those of all faiths and none; for meditation, mindfulness, prayer and worship'.

Around 20 people gather each week to share a deep, rich silence.

Those who do not need to rush away to work meet afterwards for coffee and chat.

It is a diverse, friendly group, with people from different faiths who welcome anyone who would appreciate half an hour of silence.

Or you can also experience the silence of a Quaker meetings, in Stroud every Sunday at 10.30am in the library.

Silence can take us to a place that words cannot reach.

It can soothe, calm, uplift, and perhaps be a gateway to something very profound, which can unite us all.

In the words of Pierre Leconte, Quaker and Catholic, 'Words split apart.

Silence unites.'

Do try it.